Dr Julie Christensen was selected to participate in the outbound program of the PFP-IDE 2018 spring cohort. She lived in Iowa City, Iowa where she works as the UCEDD Director for the University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development.
In this role, she supported Iowa’s Employment First Team and serves as the state coordinator of Project SEARCH Iowa. Dr Christensen’s experiences enabled her to provide rich logistical and programmatic assistance for her mentee, Novath Rukwago, in his follow along project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Novath’s project, ‘Initiative for Partnerships in Promoting Inclusive Disability Employment,’ aimed to begin with capacity building in order to develop expertise within the country and henceforth ensure that efforts can be sustained over time. Ultimately, such capacity building will aid in the creation of a Tanzanian employment advisory committee, the development of job coaching, and job development supports.
The University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) is located in Iowa City, Iowa and is one of a national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) that are officially recognized by the U.S. government.
The Center’s programs advance inclusion in numerous areas of life, including employment. As one of the United States’ foremost centers for state-level inclusive employment, the Iowa UCEDD is deeply involved with several major public initiatives that offer valuable lessons for advocates who seek to implement innovative projects that will dismantle employment barriers for people with disabilities in East Africa. These programs include the State Employment Leadership Network, Employment First Leadership Mentoring Program, Kessler Foundation Employment Grant, and Money Follows the Person (MFP).
The Iowa UCEDD has experience with cross- cultural partnerships and advising practitioners who work in under-resourced communities outside the mainland United States. They have also hosted a student from Uganda in the past which made them eager to share lessons from their center with a Professional Fellow who shares their passion for ensuring people with disabilities can access equitable inclusive employment.
Julie Christensen PhD was the director of the University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development and served as the supervisor to PFP-IDE Fellows, Novath Rukwago and Raphael Mwambalaswa. She and her colleagues provided mentorship and guidance to the Fellows as they engaged with key actors in the disability community and planed their Fellowship projects.